Issue Brief: The Living Shorelines Act


ASLA supports legislation that protects coastal communities from risks to human health and safety, including damage to property, infrastructure, and ecosystems associated with climate change.


From 1980 to 2021, the U.S. has lost $2.2 trillion due to 310 storm disasters. Over the last decade, climate-related events have become more severe and more frequent. Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, Michael, Ida, and other storms have led to mass evacuations, lengthy clean up, and expensive rebuilding efforts. Damages from the 2021 disasters alone totaled approximately $145 billion.

Using site planning and design that incorporates natural materials and nature-based systems, landscape architects play a critical role in helping coastal communities address the impacts of sea-level rise and increased storm surges, which are a result of our changing climate.

Bill Summary

On June 29, 2021, Senator Chris Murphy (CT) and Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ) announced the reintroduction of the Living Shorelines Act. This measure would promote the use of natural infrastructure to help protect coastal communities from the rising threats of climate change, including increased storm intensity and frequency, severe flooding, and sea-level rise.

Specifically, the measure would create two federal grant programs through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The first program will assist states, localities and NGOs in constructing living shorelines projects. The second program will provide federal research grants for the study of living shoreline development and effectiveness. Together, these programs will better protect coastal communities and ecosystems from the shocks and slow-onset trends associated with climate change.

The programs will target funding to infrastructure projects that mitigate the effects of shoreline erosion by incorporating natural and organic materials, such as wetland plants, aquatic vegetation, oysters and other shellfish, native grasses, shrubs, and trees. The grants require a match from the state or local entities equaling 50 percent, however, low-income communities may petition for a reduced matching requirement.

Priority would be given to projects that are to be conducted in areas where a natural disaster has been declared in the previous 10-year period. Recipients of grants will be required to monitor, collect, and transmit data on living shoreline projects and may use grant funds for these purposes.

"Climate change is one of the greatest threats to our coastal communities. Landscape architects have long used green infrastructure, including living shorelines, to protect these vulnerable communities in a resilient and sustainable way. We are excited to see the Living Shorelines Act reintroduced in Congress and look forward to working with our partners in Congress towards passage of this critical bill,” said Torey Carter-Conneen, CEO of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). “We are thankful for the continued leadership on this issue of Chairman Pallone and Senators Murphy and Blumenthal. We are also pleased to see Senator Padilla follow in Vice President Harris's footsteps in sponsoring this bill.”

Recent Action

The text of H.R. 4235 was included as part of H.R. 3764, the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act of 2021 , which passed the Natural Resources Committee by a vote of 23-19 on July 14, 2021.

On June, 29, 2021, 
H.R. 4235 was introduced and referred to the House Committees on Natural Resources, and Science, Space, and Technology.

On August 5, 2021, 
S.2633 was introduced and referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.


H.R. 4235: Representative Frank Pallone (NJ), and cosponsors.

S. 2633: Senator Chris Murphy (CT), and cosponsors.


Roxanne Blackwell, 
Esq., Hon. ASLA,
Director of Federal
Government Affairs

Elizabeth Hebron,
Director of State
Government Affairs